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Lt General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, who is one of the leading contenders to become the next chief of the Pakistan Army, has held talks with a senior Chinese military official here, becoming the first top Pakistani military official to visit China after the Uri terror attack. Lt General Hayat, chief of general staff of the Pakistan Army, held talks with Gen Fang Fenghui, member of China's Central Military Commission (CMC) and chief of the Joint Staff Department, state-run China Military Online reported. CMC - headed by President Xi Jinping - is the supreme political military organisation which exercises control over all wings of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The report did not mention the purpose of Gen Hayat's visit, but it comes ahead of the scheduled retirement of Gen Raheel Sharif in November. Gen Hayat, who hails from a military family, is among the leading candidates seen as a replacement for Gen Sharif. His trip is also the first time a senior Pakistani army official is visiting China since the attack on an Indian army base in Uri in September by Pakistan-backed militants killed 19 soldiers and amplified tension between the neighbours. The Uri attack led to "surgical strikes" by India in which several terrorist "launchpads" across the LoC were destroyed. Gen Fang Fenghui in his meeting with Gen Hayat yesterday said China and Pakistan are "iron brothers" with all-weather partnership. China is willing to make joint efforts with Pakistan to achieve development, so as to benefit the peoples of the two countries, the report quoted Gen Fang as saying. Chinese military is willing to work with Pakistani military to strengthen strategic communication, deepen the pragmatic cooperation in fields such as joint exercises and training, construction of anti-terrorism capability and information sharing, he said. Fang stressed that the two militaries shall make full use of the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism (among Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and Tajikistan) to counter terrorism, and push forward the implementation of China's Belt and Road Initiative as well as the in-depth development of the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership, so as to make positive contributions to safeguarding regional and world peace and stability. Lt Gen Hayat said Pakistan and China with their unique, example-type ties are both good friends and "iron brothers". He hoped the two sides can further strengthen their cooperation in various fields especially in defence and security sectors, the report said. The Pakistani military resolutely supports China to push forward its 'Belt and Road Initiative' and is willing to provide all support for maintaining the security of the USD 46 billion Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said.
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